As part of CUNY Month, the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Counseling Center will host the college’s first Happiness Expo on November 10 in Richard Harris Terrace at 199 Chambers Street.
The event is presented in collaboration with the Office of Student Affairs, Athletics Department, Office of Student Activities, Peer Mentoring Program, Single Stop, Health Services, Center for Career Development and Library.
The Happiness Expo will help raise students’ awareness of services they can access through the BMCC Counseling Center, and present positive strategies for managing stress and increasing wellness, such as relaxation and breathing exercises.
Open to all BMCC students, faculty and staff, the expo coincides with ThriveNYC, an initiative out of the New York City Mayor’s Office that sponsored a survey of 1,000 CUNY students and released a white paper citing that 19% of those surveyed met the criteria for depression; 26% reported significant anxiety, and of those students reporting depressive symptoms, only 10% received help from their college counseling or health center.
“We understand that our students are busy, and that they might have significant barriers to utilizing our services, whether related to their schedules or commitments outside of school,” says Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite, BMCC Director of Counseling.
“They also may not feel that counseling is something that is culturally relevant to them,” she says, “and so we are meeting them ‘where they are at’ by doing outreach and presenting events like the Happiness Expo. In that relaxed environment, we can provide them with information and present them with skills they can learn in a short period of time that support their mental health and well being.”
ThriveNYC representatives will be on hand at the Happiness Expo, as well as staff from Healthy CUNY, who will present a mental health app that connects students to 311 and other resources, and was piloted at BMCC and other CUNY colleges.
“We are thrilled to partner with ThriveNYC as we present the BMCC Happiness Expo,” says Horsham-Brathwaite. “We have deep appreciation for the work ThiveNYC is doing to de-stigmatize mental health issues and address the impact it has on the NYC and BMCC community.”
The Happiness Expo, she says, was developed by a committee led by BMCC Counselor Robert Cortes, and is part of a two-year coordinated plan to expose a greater number of BMCC students to the Counseling Center and the services it provides. The expo was inspired, in part, by a workshop, The Secret Power of Positivity, presented during Counseling Awareness Month at BMCC in Spring 2016, Horsham-Brathwaite explains, "in which we highlighted positive, research-based strategies to help support students’ well being and happiness, both of which impact their academic success.”
Ultimately, she says, the goal is to increase students’ comfort with utilizing the counseling services that BMCC offers. “We want to de-stigmatize counseling," she says, "and enable more students to access this important resource that can have such a profound impact on their college experience and future goals.”